Proper disposal of pesticides important

Published 1:10 am Wednesday, April 19, 2006

By By Buck Farrior
Earth Day is April 22nd and most people would like to be better stewards of the environment. When environmental issues are raised, many times pesticides are a focus of concern. While these chemicals are a valuable asset in the battle to save crops from devastation by a myriad of pests and they help to control insect vectored disease in animals and humans, they are materials that need to be used cautiously and wisely. For the most part, professionals that use pesticides on a regular basis are familiar with proper handling and disposal practices. However, not everyone who uses pesticides is aware of practices that minimize the environmental damages that can be associated with pesticide use. Anyone with the money can buy pesticides over the counter at garden centers and other retail outlets. These general use chemicals are usually packaged in formulations or concentrations that minimize the potential hazards. However, these relatively safe chemicals are sometimes used or disposed of in a reckless manner. The most environmentally damaging of these practices is dumping pesticides down the drain or flushing them down the toilet. The following information gives some guidelines on proper use and disposal of pesticides.
The pesticide label is the best source for information on using and disposing of pesticides. However there are some general guidelines that homeowners should be aware of when purchasing, using, and disposing of pesticides. First, pesticide is a general term that covers insecticide, herbicides, and fungicides. It is important to know what pest you are trying to control and match the appropriate control measure to the pest. In many cases, the most appropriate control measures are cultural rather than chemical. Once the pest is identified, and it is determined that a chemical is the best control measure, it is important to determine how much chemical will be needed to control the pest on the target site. Because by matching the amount of pesticide bought to the amount needed, the need for storage and disposal is reduced.
Just as it is important to purchase appropriate amounts of chemical, it is also important to mix the correct amount of mixture for each application. It is not a good idea to leave chemicals mixtures in spray equipment. The materials can deteriorate and become ineffective, you may forget what was mixed, and there is opportunity for accidents. When the application of the chemical is completed, the sprayer needs to be cleaned. Hopefully it will have very little chemical mixture left. The remaining mixture should be diluted with rinse water and sprayed over the area that has been treated. The rinsing process and cleaning should be repeated until the sprayer is clean. The remaining pesticide concentrate should be stored in its original container, in a cool location, under lock and key.
Even with the most careful planning, there will be some residual chemical. It may come in the form of small residues left in the container or products that are no longer usable. For containers with only small amounts of chemicals left in them, it is best to rinse the containers and empty the rinse water into the sprayer being used to apply the chemical. This rinse process should be repeated at least three times. Once triple rinsed the containers can be disposed of in the land fill. If there is a large amount of chemical left over, make an effort to give it to someone who can use it in a manner consistent with the label. If the chemical is unstable or can not be used, contact the Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries at (334) 240-7237 and ask about pesticide collection and disposal programs being offered in this area. For information on 57 ways to protect your home environment and your self link to

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